Saturday, January 14, 2012

Yankees-Mariners-Stupidity

You can find analysis of the trade that sent Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi from the Yankees to the Mariners for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos anywhere.

Some of it makes sense and some of it doesn’t.

For instance, there are some criticizing Pineda are basing their judgments on such short-term circumstances as the one game he pitched against the Red Sox and got shelled; that he didn’t do as well in the second half as he did in the first; that he was pitching in a pitcher-friendly home park and gives up a lot of fly balls---all agenda-laden bits of silliness.
The same people who try to tear apart every single aspect of a baseball game are doing the exact same thing they accuse those who don’t buy into their stat-based dissections by picking and choosing what suits their arguments. They don’t like the Pineda deal, so they’re finding reasons to criticize it.

So many factors affect a pitchers’ performance that one game is absolutely meaningless. The Pineda critics should know this, but it's not stopping them.

The Yankees signed A.J. Burnett in part---so it was said---because he’d been very good in his career against the Red Sox. As a Yankee, Burnett’s gotten brutalized by the Red Sox repeatedly. It was an excuse that the club could sell to fans for signing a pitcher who was injury-prone and consistently inconsistent his entire career. For the Yankees, he’s been healthy…and consistently inconsistent. As I’ve said before about Burnett: this is what they bought.

So let’s see what people were saying about the trade.

From Bob Klapisch via Twitter:

Brian Cashman stressed, "huge risk" in deal w/Mariners. "I gave up a ton (for Pineda). To me, Montero is Mike Piazza. He's Miguel Cabrera."

This is Cashman playing up the value of Montero. No one in their right mind would trade a bat they think is going to develop into Piazza or Cabrera for a pitcher short of a Pedro Martinez.

And Pineda is not Pedro Martinez.

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From Jon Heyman via Twitter about Felix Hernandez:

#mariners probably could have had 3 of montero/banuelos/betances/nova for felix. But sea people say king is off limits

There’s holding onto one’s star player and there’s being willfully blind and dumb. Is Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik that stupid to hold onto Hernandez when he could’ve three young, cheap starting pitchers and Montero?

I don’t care who the pitcher or player is, the Mariners are not contenders in 2012 and would be free to let the pitchers develop away from the Yankees idiotic and paranoid constraints that ruined Joba Chamberlain. The Mariners have shown they know how to build pitchers---three pitchers and a power bat for Hernandez? They had to make that deal if it was available. If the Yankees were this desperate for Hernandez, maybe the Mariners could’ve gotten them to take Chone Figgins’s contract as well. To flatly say “no, off-limits” is foolish.

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Then we get to Jose Campos---the pitcher who assuaged the fears of the social media experts and stat guys who obviously know more about pitching, hitting and prospects than the Yankees and Mariners do.

Campos made it all okay.

"Oh, they got Campos. Then I'm onboard."

This is fine except for the fact that most of the people discussing Campos wouldn’t know him if he mugged them.

Do you know who Campos is?

He’s a 19-year-old right-handed pitcher who completed 2011 in low-A; he had a low ERA and plenty of strikeouts.

So what?

He’s 19 and won’t be in the big leagues for at least 3 years and, judging by how the Yankees baby their pitchers as if they’ll disintegrate when the first strong wind comes along, won’t seriously contribute for 5 years.

That’s 2017.

But he’s the key to the trade. He makes it worthwhile.

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Here’s the bottom line: the Yankees needed a young arm who was already ready for full-time big league action and wouldn’t have to be nursed through the phase of innings-limits and imposed pitch counts. Pineda threw 171 innings last season and will be ready for 190-200 this season. That’s what the Yankees needed. That's what the Yankees got.

This criticism of Montero is absurd. “He doesn’t have a position,” etc.

He can hit and hit for power. He’s considered poor defensively behind the plate, but maybe he’ll improve; if not, they can move him to the outfield or to first base or third base. Or he can DH. Is a DH irrelevant? No.

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As much as Brian Cashman is being lauded for this deal, his pitching judgment hasn’t been notable in recent years apart from how bad it's been. From the way Chamberlain was ruined to the decision to sign Burnett among other glaring mistakes, to say that Cashman is a “genius” or is the “best GM in baseball” because he made a bold trade is ignoring history. Would the Yankees have been better off simply doing as they did later by signing Hiroki Kuroda, keeping Noesi and Montero and waiting to see what happened?

Maybe.

Kuroda at 1-year and $10 million is a brilliant signing for the Yankees.

Pineda’s a great arm and the Yankees are in better position to contend in 2012 than they were before last night. Given the sudden weakening of the division and the balance of power shifted to the AL West, there was no longer an automatic playoff spot for the Yankees and Red Sox.

Of course, Yankees fandom exited their cages and began with the obnoxious arrogance that had been quieted by their lack of movement this winter. Now they want Prince Fielder to DH.

That’s not happening.

All of the after-the-fact stuff you’re getting about the trade is partisan, twisted, stems from whispers and mostly lacking in knowledge.

It’s not a “this trade is stupid” move upon its completion. Both sides got what they needed and everything that happens should be interpreted based on that. In that case, it’s a good move for both sides even if the prospects falter.

2 comments:

Brooklyn Trolley Blogger said...

I'd also add Phil Hughes' failures and the fact Ian Kennedy flourished away from Cashman along with the Joba criticisms when discussing Cashman's pitching record. I also find it hypocritical that Ivan Nova had no such inning restrictions or "rules" like the others did. And that has everything to do with money; money invested in Joba; Hughes; and Kennedy; versus the free agent status of Caribbean players. The Rules were really largely about the money. Development came in a distant second or third, depending how far you care extend this conversation.

BTW, nice to see you on B-Spot again.

PAUL LEBOWITZ said...

Hughes has been babied, but was good enough to have success. Kennedy was anointed as the "best and most polished" of the three young pitchers and thought and yapped far too much for the taste of the veterans.
It's interesting that you bring up Nova. The reason Nova didn't have restrictions was because the Yankees didn't think much of him at all. The Padres had claimed him as a Rule 5 pick and sent him back to the Yankees; the Yankees demoted him last season because they were waiting for the other shoe to drop. Was it because they had no money invested in him? Did they not see how he stood up to Jose Bautista when he buzzed him and Bautista glared out at the mound? There's more to pitching than hype and stuff. It doesn't appear as if the Yankees are learning as they go.
Believe me I don't want to be using this blog anymore since I had a website designed and built, but Google still hasn't removed the malware warning. I'm waiting.